Sweet Promises: A Reader on Indian-White Relations in Canada
Terry A. Crowley is an associate professor of history at the University
In recent years armed resistance and constitutional crises have
highlighted the importance of Canada’s aboriginal peoples, but only
slowly has the discipline of history attempted to overcome the neglect
it showed this subject and the hoary myths it passed on as fact.
Skyscrapers Hide the Heavens (1989), a magisterial survey of
Native/white relations by University of Saskatchewan historian J.R.
Miller, marked a signal turning point in that reversal. Now Miller has
produced the most comprehensive reader yet to appear about the First
Nations and white Canadian society.
Although all the contributions to this book have appeared previously,
they have been chosen judiciously and organized within 12 topics that
vary from studying the period of first contact (beginning in the
sixteenth century) to more recent debates over Native claims, aboriginal
rights, and Indian self-government. Throughout, emphasis is placed on
seeing the First Nations as active agents in their own history and in
their dealings with white society. Some of the 25 essays or excepts are
frankly revisionist; not the least of these are Miller’s own essays on
Indian policy during the late nineteenth century, and his contentious
piece on aboriginal rights and land claims.
By establishing new standards and fresh approaches to the study of the
Indian past, this reader will become an indispensable source for all
those who seek to understand the evolution of Indian-white relations in